Epileptic Patients – Overview
Being diagnosed with epilepsy can be scary, but it is important for patients to know that they don’t have to go through it alone.
As a doctor, you want your patients to be as comfortable as can be and to face life with the right facts. Here is what you need to let your patients know about Epilepsy.
1. It is Caused by Nerve Malfunction
Epilepsy is caused by a problem in the brain that affects how nerve cells work together.
While most of our bodies’ cells work together in an organized way, a person with epilepsy may have nerve cells that send out electrical impulses at random.
These impulses can cause strange sensations, emotions and behaviors, and may interfere with normal body movement.
2. Epilepsy is Not Contagious
Epilepsy does not spread from person to people like colds or fever. It is not an infectious disease. Even if a friend has epilepsy, you will not catch it by being around them.
3. Epilepsy Affects People in Different Ways and can Change Over Time
Some people have epilepsy that is easily controlled with medication, while others have severe seizures that happen many times each day and cannot be controlled with medication.
A seizure looks different for every person who has one. Symptoms include convulsions, loss of consciousness, impaired awareness and confusion, muscle twitching and unusual sensations.
4. Epilepsy is not Just Seizures
Seizures are one of the symptoms of epilepsy but they aren’t the only ones. Seizures can be scary and confusing for people experiencing them for the first time, but they’re actually brief events during which no harm is done to your brain.
In contrast, uncontrolled seizures or prolonged seizures can cause permanent damage to brain cells and result in memory loss or death.
5. Epilepsy is not an Incurable Condition
Epileptic persons will have seizures for the rest of their lives but the good news is that there is a cure for epilepsy.
The bad news is that it hasn’t been discovered yet. In the meantime, there are medications available that can prevent most epileptic seizures from occurring or minimize their severity if they do happen.
These medications allow many people with epilepsy to lead normal lives without any restrictions whatsoever.
Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) do not cure epilepsy but they can control it, allowing patients to have an active life and build up an individual lifestyle around it according to their wishes.
6. It Doesn’t Mean Paralysis or Death
People with epilepsy live long and healthy lives. In fact, most people with epilepsy can expect to live well into their seventies, eighties, and beyond.
Most people with the condition can safely drive a car. This may depend on the type of epilepsy they have and how well they are able to control their seizures.
7. Epileptic Seizures Differ
The majority of people with epilepsy have what is considered “partial onset” seizures.
These are more common and less severe than “generalized onset” seizures, which affect both sides of the brain at once and typically cause a loss of consciousness, stiffening of the muscles, and may involve jerking movements or other involuntary actions.
Seizures can range from mild to severe but when it happens does not always determine how severe they will be.
8. If you Suffer a Seizure Once, it is Likely to Happen Again
Anybody who has had one seizure has a 50% chance of having another one in the next 10 years.
Many people who have recurring seizures eventually develop epilepsy (recurrent seizures without an obvious cause over a period of years).
9. Seizures Often Occur During Physical Activity
A person who has been diagnosed with epilepsy should take precautions during swimming and bathing because when an epileptic seizure occurs it is almost always due to some sort of physical activity or stress like fever or fasting.
10. Alcohol is a Trigger
Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol may seem to help when you’re having a seizure, but it’s actually dangerous in this case.
Alcohol will increase brain activity and can cause seizures to become longer or more frequent, or affect your breathing or heart rate negatively during or after the seizure ends.
Epileptic persons are often anxious and scared about what the condition means for them. As a doctor, it is your duty to clear their doubts as well as tell them the truth about what to expect.
We hope that with the facts discussed here, you are equipped with ample information to give your epileptic patients.